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IU Northwest announces search for new head volleyball coach

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The Indiana University Northwest Office of Student Life and Athletics announced Tuesday that it would pursue a coaching search for its NAIA Division II volleyball program, after determining that Coach Omar Vazquez would not return to lead the team for the 2011 season. Student Life and Athletics Director Charles Gary, Ph.D., said Vazquez was informed on Monday of the university’s decision to take the program in a different direction.

Players were told of the change on Tuesday afternoon. Gary said he assured the student-athletes that the volleyball program would continue next year.  

“I told them that we are committed to finding the coach who can give them the best college athletic experience possible,” Gary said on Tuesday. “We are moving ahead with planning our schedule for next season.”        

Vazquez had coached at IU Northwest since 2006. After a winless first season, the team gained some ground in recruiting and competitive play, and in 2009 the Lady RedHawks participated in their first postseason conference tournament in Houston. Vazquez was 24-64 over his final three seasons, including a 9-26 record in 2010.

Vazquez is also serving this season as an assistant men’s basketball coach for the RedHawks’ Shawn Chism. His continuing status with the basketball team had not been determined as of Tuesday.     

Gary thanked Vazquez on behalf of IU Northwest for providing the volleyball program with a competitive attitude and a solid foundation of skilled players.

“Coach Vazquez was very committed to this program, and you can see the evidence of his hard work and his strong recruiting on the court,” the athletic director said. “The team is far ahead of where it was when Coach came here in 2006, and we appreciate the many positives that he brought to our program.

“As a young program like ours matures and establishes itself, sometimes it becomes necessary to step back and look at where you’re at and where you want to go, and then make decisions based on that,” Gary continued. “We just felt it was time to find a new direction for our team.”

A young team comprised almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores this season, the Lady RedHawks should return most everyone except senior middle hitter Ashley Howard (Hammond Morton). Howard has been an anchor for the team for the past four years.   

Gary did not set a timetable for completion of the coaching search but said he would like to have someone in place early in the spring semester so that the new coach will have time to recruit and plan for the 2011 season.